Guilford Bioretention Facility


Maryland Sustainability Engineering



Update (October 7, 2011)

The student-driven Guilford Run Bioretention Facility helps preserve the Anacostia River Watershed.

With the support of the University Sustainability Fund, Maryland Sustainability Engineering students develop a rain garden system that minimizes stormwater pollution from Parking Lot 1.

The Clark School's Maryland Sustainability Guilford Run Bioretention Project implemented a two-tiered bioretention facility, or rain garden, over winter break last year and added finishing touches this year.

Students of many different majors received hands-on experience constructing the Guilford Run stormwater control project. The student group, Maryland Sustainability Engineering, developed a bioretention facility (rain garden) in the strip of land between Parking Lot 1C and Campus Drive that mitigates the impacts of stormwater runoff on Guilford Run before it gets to the Anacostia River. Maryland Sustainability Engineering works on domestic projects aligned with the goals and mission of the university's chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

The bioretention facility serves several functions: plant roots and soil media will filter pollutants from the runoff; and will reduce the velocity of runoff entering local streams, preventing erosion. Each of these functions is an important feature of low-impact development (LID) and is implemented in several existing bioretention facilities around campus. In addition to the environmental impact of this project, students supplemented their education with a valuable design experience. Students actively engaged in discussion with UMD faculty presently researching bioretention and university professionals well-versed in stormwater management issues specific to our university.

Funding for the project came largely from an award of $9,000 from the University Sustainability Fund as well as a Chesapeake Bay Trust Mini Grant award of $5,000. 

"One of our biggest goals is to teach other students about the efforts on campus and teach them what the challenges are and what the difficulties are when doing these types of projects, and how we can get around those because there are definitely challenges in this project. The [best] thing we can do; the biggest part that I can play is by helping other people understand the type of impact we have with projects like this," said project leader Phillip Sandborn.

The Sustainability Fund was made possible by the Student Sustainability Fee that was voted on and imposed by students in 2008. Last year, the Fund gave away $135,000 last year to nine projects, including the Gulford Run Bioretention System, that help move the university towards its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Other projects included the Rooftop Community Garden ($4,450) and the Eppley Recreation Center's Sphagnum Moss Pool Treatment System ($64,717). This year, $215,000 is available through the Fund to enhance campus sustainability and further develop the university as a living laboratory for social, economic and environmental stewardship.